United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in the afternoon of Wednesday, 2 May.
The Secretary-General met tête-à-tête with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They discussed Darfur, the Iraq Compact, the work of the Middle East Quartet, the meeting on the Arab Peace Initiative that would take place later that week, Kosovo and Lebanon.
He later met Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with whom the Secretary-General stressed the need for intensifying efforts at reconciliation and national dialogue. They also discussed the United Nations role in Iraq.
That evening, he spoke with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amre Moussa. They discussed the situation in Lebanon and the Arab Peace Initiative.
On Thursday, he co-chaired, along with Prime Minister al-Maliki, the launch of the International Compact with Iraq. He told the delegates gathered for the launch that the Compact represents a road map for the next five years, aimed at helping Iraq achieve economic prosperity, political stability and lasting security. (See Press Release SG/SM/10971.)
The Secretary-General said: “Much work will be needed to keep Iraq on track, but I am confident that the people and Government are up to the challenge.” He emphasized that, under the Compact, the Government had committed itself to pursuing a number of important initiatives to promote dialogue and reconciliation, and to adhere to a legislative timetable designed to strengthen Iraqi unity.
“ Iraq is at a critical juncture,” he said. “Political solutions are essential to building the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous country.”
The Compact meeting adopted by acclamation a resolution reaffirming the shared commitment of the 74 delegations to strengthen their partnership for a secure and stable Iraq. The Government of Iraq and the international community stressed the need for the Iraqi Government to pursue fundamental reforms in governance, strengthened anti-corruption measures, equal protection for all Iraqis and an institutional framework based on the rule of law.
The resolution adopted at Sharm el-Sheikh also pledged substantive international engagement and investments to bridge the gap between Iraq’s needs and its capabilities in the medium term, with a special emphasis on the granting of debt relief to Iraq.
Earlier that day, the Secretary-General held a bilateral meeting with Manouchehr Motaki, the Foreign Minister of Iran. The Secretary-General discussed the nuclear issue with Minister Motaki and urged Iran to continue its discussions with the European Union. They also talked about Lebanon and Iraq, with the Secretary-General calling for Iran to play a constructive role in building a national consensus in Iraq.
The Secretary-General also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. They discussed the importance of the conference and, beyond the issue of assistance, that of national reconciliation. They also discussed Darfur and the progress made towards the heavy support package.
On the same day, Thursday, the Secretary-General also met with Margaret Beckett, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, and with Foreign Minister Song Min-soon of the Republic of Korea, as well as his Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi.
The Secretary-General, in a press conference that day, said he was pleased that a number of countries had made concrete commitments under the Compact. He said that specific financial commitments made by particular countries were estimated at over $30 billion, including some commitments of debt relief on the Paris Club terms.
The Secretary-General later attended a briefing on the Arab Peace Initiative for the Middle East with the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. This briefing was followed the next day, Friday, by a two-hour working session between the Arab group and members of the international Quartet for the Middle East.
On Friday morning, his last day in Egypt, the Secretary-General attended a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh of the foreign ministers of the countries neighbouring Iraq, and he told them that he is strongly committed to having the United Nations do more for Iraq, particularly in areas where the Organization has a comparative advantage, such as political facilitation and humanitarian assistance. (See Press Release SG/SM/10974.)
The Secretary-General told the ministers: “Security in Iraq will not be achieved through military means alone.” He called for national reconciliation in Iraq, and urged the neighbouring countries to do their part in denouncing sectarian violence, strengthening bilateral exchange in the region and encouraging national dialogue within Iraq.
In comments to reporters afterwards, the Secretary-General said that he had been very much encouraged by the candid dialogue with the Arab partners. Now, he said, it was important to seize the momentum to realize the two-State vision for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. On Iraq, he also said he was encouraged by the outcome of both the meeting of the International Compact and that of the neighbouring countries of Iraq. He said that the important thing now is to translate the commitments made in Sharm el-Sheikh into deeds and actions.
On the sidelines of that day’s meetings, he met with the Foreign Minister of Japan, Taro Aso, with whom he discussed the six-party talks on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the importance of national reconciliation in Iraq and the need for increased international cooperation. They also discussed Darfur, climate change and United Nations reforms.
The Secretary-General returned to New York later that day.